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U.S. Report: Iran’s Support for Terrorism

Iran was the “leading state sponsor of terrorism,” according to the State Department’s Country Reports on Terrorism 2021. The Ministry of Intelligence and Security facilitated a “wide range of terrorist and other illicit activities” in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas. And the elite Qods…

U.S.-Iran Confrontation in Syria

Updated: March 25, 2023
Between 2017 and 2023, Iranian-backed militias have launched dozens of attacks on U.S. forces in Syria and Iraq. Tensions escalated in March 2023 after a series of exchanges near U.S. positions in Syria when an Iranian drone attack killed a U.S. contractor and injured five troops and another…

News Digest: Week of March 20

Updated: March 27, 2023
March 20  International: The European Union sanctioned eight men and one organization, and Britain designated seven men for human rights abuses, particularly during the nationwide protests that erupted in September 2022. The designations reflected growing international disgust over the Islamic…

Nowruz: Iran Declares Victory Over Protests

On March 21, Iran’s leaders marked Nowruz, the Persian New Year and the first day of spring, by declaring victory over the protesters but acknowledging economic difficulties. Both Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Ebrahim Raisi blamed months of “riots” on Western powers. American…

U.S. Sanctions Network Supplying Drone Parts

On March 21, the United States sanctioned three men and four organizations that procured equipment for Iran’s drone and weapons programs. The network, based in Iran and Turkey, had links to the Ministry of Defense. One firm was owned by the ministry. Two of the men tried to acquire European-made…

Nowruz: U.S.-Iranian Astronaut at the White House

On March 20, Lt. Col. Jasmin Moghbeli, an Iranian-American astronaut leading NASA's summer 2023 mission to the International Space Station, was a featured speaker with President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden at the first annual White House Nowruz reception. In her remarks, Moghbeli expressed…

Nowruz: Bidens Celebrate the Persian New Year

On March 20, President Joe Biden hosted the inaugural Nowruz reception at the White House, where he lauded Iranian women who were “fighting for their human rights and fundamental freedoms.” Biden welcomed the Persian new year, which he said “reminds us of hope and what that lies ahead from these…

E.U. and Britain Sanction Iran for Rights Abuses

On March 20, the European Union sanctioned eight men and one organization, and Britain designated seven men for human rights abuses, particularly during the nationwide protests that erupted in September 2022. The designations reflected growing international disgust over the Islamic Republic’s…

State Department Report on Human Rights in Iran

Iran’s human rights record was extremely poor in 2022, particularly after nationwide protests erupted in September after the death in detention of Mahsa Amini, the State Department reported. Security, judicial, and political officials carried out unlawful killings and arbitrary detentions,…

Nowruz: Photos of the Celebrations

Iran marked Nowruz, the Persian new year, on March 21, 2023. The holiday, which falls on the spring equinox, dates back to the sixth century B.C. and is celebrated by all of the Islamic Republic’s religious sects. Many of the season’s traditions have roots in Zoroastrianism, an ancient monotheistic…

Nowruz: Economic and Political Challenges

The Islamic Republic faced a daunting array of challenges as it marked Nowruz, the Persian new year, in March 2023. At home, an increasingly unpopular government was dealing with skyrocketing prices, energy shortages, and new protests over the poisoning of thousands of schoolgirls. Both Supreme…

Nowruz: Protests & Problems in Iran’s New Year

Nasser Hadian is a U.S.-educated professor of political science at the University of Tehran and a former visiting professor at Columbia University.   As Iran marks the end of its year, what is the status of the protests that first erupted in September 2022? As of early 2023, major protests had…

News Digest: Week of March 13

March 11 Domestic: More than 100 people “responsible for the recent school incidents” -- the government's description for the mass poisoning of schoolgirls -- across 11 provinces had been detained, the Interior Ministry said. Some of the detainees had “hostile motives” and sought to instill terror…

U.S. on Iran-Saudi Rapprochement & China

U.S. national security and foreign policy officials expressed cautious optimism after Iran and Saudi Arabia agreed to restore diplomatic ties on March 10, 2023. “We welcome the agreement between Iran and Saudi Arabia,” said John Kirby of the National Security Council. But “it really does remain to…

Iran and Saudi Arabia Restore Ties

Updated: June 6, 2023
On March 10, Iran and Saudi Arabia agreed to restore diplomatic ties seven years after severing relations. The regional rivals committed to reopening embassies in Tehran and Riyadh by May 2023. The deal, brokered by China, also included the implementation of a security cooperation agreement signed…

U.S. Sanctions Firms Supplying Drone Parts

On March 9, the United States sanctioned five companies and one woman based in China for supporting Iran’s efforts to procure drone components. The network was linked to Iran Aircraft Manufacturing Industrial Company (HESA), which produced Shahed-136 suicide drones. The unmanned aerial vehicles (…

U.S. Sanctions “Shadow Banking” Network

On March 9, the United States sanctioned 39 companies for providing Iranian oil firms access to the international financial system. The network, which moved billions of dollars for the Islamic Republic, was based in Iran, Hong Kong, Singapore, Pakistan, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and the…

Iran’s Dissident Sunni Leader

In 2023, Molavi Abdolhamid Ismaeelzahi, a leading Sunni cleric in Sistan and Baluchistan, gained national attention after calling for a new constitution and an end to theocratic rule. His fiery sermons led thousands of ethnic Baluch to demand an end to the brutal government crackdown against…

Mass Poisoning of Schoolgirls in Iran

Updated: April 4, 2023
Between November 2022 and March 2023, up to 7,000 schoolgirls were poisoned at dozens of schools in at least 28 of Iran’s 31 provinces, according to human rights groups and government officials. Hundreds were hospitalized with symptoms that included respiratory distress, numbness in limbs, heart…

Iran (Again) Promises Access to IAEA Inspectors

After years of stonewalling, Iran pledged on March 4, 2023 to cooperate with a U.N. probe into traces of uranium at three undeclared sites that date back to a covert program before 2003. Tehran also promised to reinstall monitoring equipment, including cameras, that had been removed from nuclear…

Sanctions on Iran for Abuse of Girls and Women

To mark International Women’s Day on March 8, the United States, Britain, the European Union, and Australia imposed sanctions on more than a dozen Iranian government and security officials, business leaders, companies, and government institutions for human rights abuses of women and girls. The…

U.S. on the Girls and Women of Iran

Senior U.S. officials have been increasingly critical of the Iranian government for the brutal treatment of girls and women – including murder, rape, torture, and mass arrests – since the death of Mahsa Amini on Sept. 16, 2022 ignited nationwide protests. “The regime is brutally repressing the…

U.S. Locked in "Existential Struggle" with Iran

On March 8, the U.S. intelligence community warned that Iran is an escalating threat to the United States and its allies because of its advances in both conventional and unconventional capabilities, including cyber technology, ballistic and cruise missiles, arsenal of drones and nuclear potential.…

News Digest: Week of March 6

Updated: March 7, 2023
March 6 Domestic: Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei described the poisoning of schoolgirls “a huge, unforgivable crime.” He demanded that the perpetrators, when caught, face the death penalty. The new crisis followed nationwide protests over personal freedoms, soaring inflation as the value of…

U.S. Sanctions Oil Exporters and Shippers

On March 2, the United States sanctioned six companies for selling or shipping Iranian petroleum and petrochemical products. Petrochemicals, derived from oil and natural gas, are essential to manufacturing paints, plastics, solar panels, medicine, and mobile phones that facilitate modern life. The…

News Digest: Week of February 27

February 26 Economic: Iran’s currency fell to a record 600,000 rials for one U.S. dollar. The rial traded at 32,000 to the dollar in 2015, when Iran signed the JCPOA. Inflation had also reached more than 50 percent in January 2023. Domestic: A health official said that girls’ schools across Iran…

Timeline: Iran-Russia Collaboration on Drones

Updated: August 10, 2023
In August 2022, Iran’s supply of lethal drones to Russia sparked international interest and alarm. By December, Iran had reportedly supplied more than 1,700 drones capable of suicide bombings, surveillance and intelligence, and combat, according to Ukrainian military intelligence. By early 2023,…

Overview: Iran’s Drone Fleet

When did Iran start building a drone fleet? Iran’s interest in drones and uninhabited vehicles really goes back to the Iran-Iraq war in the mid-1980s. The Iranians have been in the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) business for several decades. The first generation of the Ababil that was used during…

Explainer: American Parts in Iranian Drones

The majority of components in Iran’s drones—including microchips and GPS modules—were made in the United States, which is supporting Ukraine. The components, used for functions ranging from navigation to data processing, have been traced to two Iranian suicide drones—the Shahed-131 and Shahed-136—…

U.S. Officials on Iran's Drones

In 2023, U.S. officials expressed increasing concern about Iran’s drone capabilities as a threat to global security as well as allies in the Middle East. Pentagon, State Department, White House, and intelligence officials cited Iran’s export of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to Russia, which began…